Category Archives: Sex Education
This word strikes fear in the heart of most parents. It’s the kryptonite of the parenting fraternity. When most parents look at their children, the last thing they want to think about is that they – gulp – masturbate. Because there seem to be such taboos connected with this topic, many parents are unaware that it is , in fact, totally normal for children to be touching themselves regularly at the age of three and then again, from twelve well into adulthood.
It’s bizarre, really, this fear of the masturbation conversation. I’ve seen friends freely post on Facebook about how little Sammy ate a cockroach today! Marcus fingerprinted with his own poo! Jenny had an epic diaper explosion (with attached photographs for evidence)! But when they discovered little Toby masturbating: silence. This little milestone is shoved under the rug faster than the most shameful family skeleton.
I was fortunate to have been raised by two incredibly open and honest parents and had benefitted from the freedom to be able to discuss anything with them, This led to some conversations that my parents probably didn’t enjoy much (sorry, Mom and Dad!) but I grew up unafraid of my body and free of misguided hang-ups. I decided, when I started this parenting journey, that I was going to be the type of parent that answers questions frankly and openly and without reservation. Yes sirree, I was evolved.
So, when the day came that I discovered my three year old daughter with her hands down her pants, I took a deep breath, plastered a non-freaked out smile on my face and calmly told her that touching herself was a lovely and normal thing to do but that it was something she should do alone in her bedroom. “Okay”, she happily replied and skipped off to her room. Patting myself on the back for being so calm under duress (because the inner voice was shrieking “omigodomigodomigod!”), I went about making dinner and praying that that was that.
The Masturbatory Gods had a good laugh at that one. As if. The next day, I unsuspectingly walked into the living room with a basket of laundry and BAM, there she was, hands in pants. Deep breath. Calm, cheery (slightly squeaky) voice. “Darling, remember how we talked yesterday about how if you want to touch your vagina, you need to do it alone in your bedroom?” Sweet, innocent eyes looked back at me. “Yes, mama, okay.”, and off she went.
Phew. Twice wasn’t so bad. Now, she got it. Excellent.
Until the next day. Three times. And the day after that.
By this time, I was getting so good at this conversation that I didn’t even bat an eyelid anymore. I knew this was a totally normal phase and I was proud that I was handling it with such grace and maturity. Mary Poppins herself couldn’t have handled it better. The new mantra in our home, repeated in sing-song voices multiple times per week, was “If you want to touch your vagina, you have to do it all alone in your bedroom.”
One morning, we were all eating breakfast before day care when down the pants went her little hands.
As I poured my cereal into a bowl, I said, “Honey, you can’t touch your vagina at the dinner table.”
Chewing her Weetbix, she replied, “But why, Mama?”
Good question. Now how to put it into a social context that a toddler could understand?
I answered, “Okay, Sweetie, let me ask you this: have you ever seen ME touch MY vagina at the breakfast table?”
(Brilliant, Michelle! If she understands this, then she’ll get why it’s an inappropriate social behaviour!)
Innocent eyes stared back, as she thought, then she grinned as the penny dropped, “No, I never seed you do that, Mama!”
I grinned triumphantly, “You see, touching vaginas is not something we do at the breakfast table.”
She smiled back and replied, “If we want to touch, then we have to go to our bedrooms!”
Phew. FINALLY. She got it.
Off we went to day care. My little girl skipped in happily and put her bag in her locker.
Then she ran to her teacher and excitedly declared…
Wait for it…
You’re going to love this… Read the rest of this entry
Rude words and why Baby G thinks we can’t say them at school.
Last week, my big kids each had a friend over to play. Baby G was feeling left out because the big girls wanted alone time sans little sister, so I suggested she go play with the boys, who are good-natured and would probably include her.
She happily skipped off to Little Man’s room and I got busy cooking dinner, enjoying this peaceful moment to myself and patting myself on the back for engineering it. After a while, I realised she hadn’t come back so I went to check up on her and the boys. I peeped around the doorway to Little Man’s bedroom and saw him and his little mate jumping of the bed and shouting rude words at the top of their lungs (as 8 year old boys do) followed by raucous laughter. Baby G, of course, was howling with laughter and joining in.
Living with my kids is like house-sharing with a comedy trio. The conversations in my house make me routinely shoot coffee out of my nose. I’m pretty sure their comic dialogue is some kind of evolutionary survival instinct thing…it certainly saves our sanity on those “Mama is losing her mind” days. (Let’s be honest – that’s most days because getting my kids to listen and follow instructions is a parenting skill I am yet to master.)
Just last week, this conversation took place while I was driving the girls to dancing. It led to me nearly crashing into a tree:
Baby G: Muuuum, do i come from China?
Me: No, you’re Australian, Sweetie.
Baby G: But Miss M says I come from China!
Miss M: I did not say she comes from China… I said she came out of your VAGINA! Read the rest of this entry
Little Man: Where did I come from, Mummy?
This conversation had been threatening to ambush me for weeks. I could feel it. This was my moment and I had only one chance not to stuff it up. I remembered the advice I’d been given by a much wiser mum-friend to give just enough enformation, but not too much. Age appropriate, Michelle, age appropriate. I sat him down with me, put my arm around his shoulders and began to explain how Mummy and Daddy had decided that after we got married, were decided that even though we were so happy (carefree, spontaneous, able to sleep-in and did I mention spontaneous?) we really wanted a family. I went on to explain that, if two people reeeeallly love each other, they can use that love to make a baby. I (confidently, forthrightly and not-at-all-struggling-for-words like a bumbling idiot, not at all…) described how Daddy has special teeny tiny seeds called Sperm and Mummy has an Egg and that when we cuddled really tight, with love in our hearts, he gave me some seeds to join with my egg, and that would grow into a baby.
Little Man: Where does Daddy keep his seeds?
Me: (Dear Lord, what is this obsession with details?) Oh, um…well, you know that sac you both have under your penises? That’s where the seeds are kept.
Solemn nod. huge eyes.
Little Man: But why doesn’t he have a picture of us kids on that sac?
(My turn to look bewildered.)